Free Wi-Fi project foreign contractor asked to stop services, provide refund over poor performance - Palace

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 6) - The government has formally written to the foreign contractor hired to install free Wi-Fi sites nationwide that it wants them out of the project.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said the Department of Information and Communications Technology has sent a demand letter to service provider Speedcast, seeking an end to their deal on the country's free public internet access program.

The foreign company is also asked to return the money paid by the government for Wi-Fi sites that it has still not been able to put up.

"Ang demand po nila ay itigil na ang proyekto dahil DICT na po ang gagawa ng proyekto. At ang perang binayad sa kanya na 'di naman niya naikabit by way of Wi-Fi spots ay dapat ibalik," Roque told a media briefing.

[Translation: The demand is for the contractor to stop its services, because the DICT will take over the project. The department is also asking the company to return the money paid by the government for the installation of Wi-Fi spots, which they weren't able to completely put up.]

Citing DICT Usec. Emmanuel Caintic, Roque said the contractor has until tomorrow to respond to these demands.

Roque earlier said President Rodrigo Duterte no longer wants the foreign company's involvement, considering only around 10,000 of the target 120,000 sites have so far been installed, with only a year before Duterte's term ends.

The spokesperson also said with the DICT's improved performance, the intended takeover of the project will help in at least coming close to hitting the 120,000-target over the next year. He earlier said the DICT was able to install 500% more sites in 2020 alone, compared to the total number put up by the contractor until 2019.